Saving for your Travel Fund

Delicious trout pizza in Bolivia for only $3.

Delicious trout pizza in Bolivia for only $3.

Written by Karl

It’s easy to extend your travels with a few lifestyle changes at home. Here are some tips to get you out in the world sooner, with more cash in hand.

Buy less

In addition to getting rid of stuff, you also have to try not to replace it all with other crap. Developing frugality as a habit is important.

The stuff not only gets in the way, but the additional padding in your bank account can go a lot farther once you’re in a place like Thailand. The money you save at home will likely go much farther in other parts of the world, and this is helpful to keep in mind when debating that next purchase.

Avoid monthly expenses

Many people take for granted their $100/month iPhone, $100+ TV subscription, gym membership, and more. These expenses can be a large part of what blocks you from breaking free and traveling the world.

Phones

You should be especially wary of anything that forces you into a long term contract, like the ones offered by most cellular providers. Fortunately there are some great alternatives like Virgin Mobile, Metro PCS, Republic Wireless, and more, that allow you to access data features (if you feel you need them) without requiring a 2-year contract and outrageous monthly rates.

A simple phone off craigslist and pre-paid phone cards are sometimes competitive for shorter stretches of time, or infrequent users.

If you’re worried about switching numbers, you should check out Google Voice. Google Voice allows you to distribute a phone number which can remain constant even if you switch providers. The service does have the caveat of no support for MMS (that means you, iPhone group messaging), but it’s free, so you can’t expect the world.

TV

Cable subscriptions provide terrible value in the age of the internet. Trim back to just using the internet, and if you need to, you can always supplement with a Netflix or Hulu Plus subscription.

Gym

Don’t pay for a gym membership! Ride a bike, do some pull-ups and pushups, go for a swim. It’s easy to stay in shape without blowing money on a gym membership. Speaking of riding a bike...

Cars

Another huge expense comes from car ownership. If it’s at all possible for you to get rid of a car, whether by moving closer to work, or by riding a bike, it can save you huge money. Obviously the benefits here depend a lot on your particular situation, but gas, insurance, and possibly car payments definitely take their toll.

Food

Trying to eat at restaurants less frequently can be another source of savings. Even if $10 doesn’t feel like much, it certainly adds up after many meals over the course of a month.

Debt servicing

Try to avoid taking on debt. Monthly interest and payments can be a plague, and the toll of keeping a balance on your credit card is very steep. Most likely, paying any outstanding credit card debt you have is more important than saving or investing. Most credit cards charge interest of at least 14 percent, which is considerably larger than any returns you can expect from the market or savings.

The goal

If money is a primary concern keeping you from traveling longer and more often, then making life at home less expensive, in addition to traveling frugally, will get you where you want to be. Trimming costs can go a long ways towards earning you the financial freedom you need to Trek Hard. Keep your eyes on the prize!

What are some other cost-saving tricks you use? Let me know in the comments!

 

About the Author

Karl's picture

Karl Keefer built the Trek Hard website. He has been quasi-nomadic since graduating college in 2009.

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